A chat in the pub turned friends Monique Rayment and Tommy Hoad into Outback Trailblazers for the charity Angel Flight, and they couldn’t have had more fun doing it.

Story By Annabelle Brayley

Monique Rayment and Tommy Hoad are great mates. She runs the Jundah Pub, in central western Queensland, and he drinks there. Early last year, a couple of blokes pulled into the pub for a drink and a yarn on their way around outback Queensland while finalising the details for a car rally. Aptly named the Outback Trailblazers, the rally was designed to raise money for Angel Flight, an Australia-wide charity that co-ordinates flights for people from rural and remote areas who need to access medical treatment a long way from home. Based out of Brisbane, Angel Flight relies on the volunteer services of the pilots who offer their own planes and time to transport patients and the helpers who ferry them around between airfields, accommodation and appointments.
When the Trailblazers’ co-ordinator, Lance Smith, and production manager, Glenn Turner, told Monique and Tommy about the event, Tommy immediately announced he’d ride his bicycle to raise some much needed dollars for them. Jumping right on board with him, Monique took herself off to Longreach, 220 kilometres to the north east, to buy a bike. “The only one available was a men’s bike but I’m a bit of a tomboy anyway, so it suited me well enough,” she says.
Monique and Tommy went into training, inspiring others in the small community of 66 to join them. On August 29 last year, 16 people rode 40km and raised $9017.40 for the cause. So enthusiastic were Monique and Tommy, they also nominated for the rally, which was planned for October.
The Jundah Pub is usually flat out throughout tourist season, but fortunately it quietens down by mid October when Monique and Tommy both took a week’s holiday and went to Barcaldine to join the other 25 cars in the inaugural event.
Recalling the first day, Monique says, “We arrived in Barcaldine on the Sunday morning really not knowing what to expect but it was a fantastic week!” From day one, Tommy and Monique cheerfully jumped into every party and every challenge although Tommy admits to leaning on the fence, watching his partner in crime flog a truck tube down the home straight of the Muttaburra Swimming Pool, guided by a ring-in they bribed to swim for him. They were battling to win their round of the novelty events in the swimming carnival that marked the start of the fifth day but Tommy was crippled with a monumental hangover.

This story excerpt is from Issue #69

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2010